Ultrasound velocity measurements were performed on a single crystal of spin-frustrated ferrite spinel ZnFe2O4 from 300 K down to 2 K. In this cubic crystal, all the symmetrically independent elastic moduli exhibit softening with a characteristic minimum with decreasing temperature below ∼100 K. This elastic anomaly suggests a coupling between dynamical lattice deformations and molecular-spin excitations. In contrast, the elastic anomalies, normally driven by the magnetostructural phase transition and its precursor, are absent in ZnFe2O4, suggesting that the spin-lattice coupling cannot play a role in relieving frustration within this compound. The present study infers that, for ZnFe2O4, the dynamical molecular-spin state evolves at low temperatures without undergoing precursor spin-lattice fluctuations and spin-lattice ordering. It is expected that ZnFe2O4 provides the unique dynamical spin-lattice liquidlike system, where not only the spin molecules but also the cubic lattice fluctuate spatially and temporally.
|Journal||Physical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics|
|Publication status||Published - 2015 Nov 24|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Condensed Matter Physics